Meet Our New MARA Instructor Junia Papas


Published: July 1, 2023 by Melissa Prunty Kemp

The archives and records management profession continues to grow with creative innovations and so does our MARA faculty. One of our newest archives faculty members, Junia Papas, MARA, CA, brings to our department a uniquely useful set of professional experiences. Papas is an independent archivist in her own consulting firm, Junia Papas Archival Consulting, LLC., with extensive experience with government, academic, and religious archives.

 Papas is a designer and book author of methods for designing physical archives repositories that offers a companion perspective to MARA 211 where students learn how to design and create records management centers. Additional but exceptionally valuable knowledge of copyright law that Papas will teach her students will prepare them for the legal challenges of digital assets management and preservation. Papas introduces herself and her skills with archival construction and copyright law in this conversation.

MK: I am happy to be able to introduce you to our MARA students in this discussion with Junia Papas, our newest MARA instructor. So, tell us Junia, where did you earn your degree?

JP: Oh, from the best university! From San José State University. I am so honestly grateful that I got my MARA degree, you know, from San José. It has proven to be very beneficial for me in my career, and laid a great foundation for me. So I felt very confident in my career when I got started.

MK: Wonderful. When did you graduate?

JP: 2018

MK: What drew you to the MARA program?

JP: What I liked about the MARA program was that it was very well known in the industry. I would go to conferences like the Society of American Archivists, and I could see their marketing materials in multiple places; they were very distinguished and well known. And, so I thought, you know, I want to go with a program that is established, that’s well known, that when I put this on my resume that people are going to recognize it and say, oh, yeah, San José. I’m very pleased and happy I did.

MK: Can you tell us about some experience or meeting you may have had, where your MARA degree was recognized, and it helped your meeting or your endeavor?

JP: I had quite a few job interviews before I decided to take the job as a director of archives. So, in some of the interviews that I encountered, they absolutely recognized San José, and they were very impressed. The one I ended up landing on, they weren’t very familiar with archives and what anything meant. It was a religious archive, and it was their first time hiring an archivist. They really didn’t know one from another program.

MK: Tell us about your career. What exactly are doing now in the world of archives and records management?

JP:   Well, right now, I’ve decided to own my own consulting firm. When I was the director of an archive for over four years, I was giving presentations about the construction of an archival vault, which I had built while I was a director. The whole process was something that I had not seen in the archival industry in such precise detail. So, I thought, you know, maybe I could help some other people. In my endeavor to do that, I kept getting emails, and people kept asking me lots and lots of questions that really involved more in-depth answers—it wasn’t something I could just shoot in an email back. I needed to really evaluate their archive to give them an in depth report on it. So, I decided to open up my own consulting business to be able to help with this service that I can supply to other archives. And, it’s worked out really well! I must say, in addition to that, the funniest thing is that now I’m getting my PhD. I will be a PhD hopefully in September 2023. So I’ll be a PhD faculty member, as well.

MK: What made you go further with your education to seek a PhD?

JP: I really enjoy the idea of teaching other MARA students. And, I could see that most of the instructors hold PhDs, and so I thought maybe I could do it, too. I had already written a book. So, I spoke with an institution about it. I thought, I’ve already written this book, maybe I could even get credit. I reworked it to be a dissertation rather than a book. And now the process is complete.

MK: Tell us more about your book.

JP: Oh, it’s something that I really love that is close to my heart. It’s funny—when they talk about PhDs, they say it will take five years to write it or whatever. It took me 23 years to write this book. I had been working on it for over two decades. It is a very extensive book on historical genealogies, a lot of research into my own personal family tree. Before I was an archivist, I was a professional genealogist and conducted research for lots of people’s families. Then in the midst of doing that I would work on my own, so I went back in my family, which is Bella Russian. My married name is Papas, but before that, my last name was Yessanoff; my people were from Belarus. I went back as far as I could, which was 1420. In the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. I even went  back before that for my dissertation. I explained more about Slavic migration patterns and early Slavic tribes. So, it’s a very complete, exhaustive genealogy.


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